By Aaron Huff
I-15 construction is no longer limited to the Salt Lake Valley, as commuters through Provo can attest.
In Utah County, construction crews have begun to widen a stretch of I-15 and build several new superstructures from north Springville to the Provo River.
The major improvement, which is already well underway, is the construction of the 1860 South interchange at the south end of University Avenue. This structure is expected to be completed by this fall, said Dan Nielson, senior project engineer at the Utah Department of Transportation.
Shortly after completion of the 1860 S. structure, the existing overpass just north of 1860 S., named the SS Structure, will be demolished and rebuilt, Nielson said. The new SS structure will have two lanes, and will only be used by commuters merging with southbound I-15.
The current SS Structure is used by both southbound commuters exiting from I-15 and by commuters who get on I-15 from University Avenue.
In mid July, northbound traffic will move over to what is now the southbound lane, as construction of the 1860 S. overpass will begin from the east. After completion of the 1860 S. structure this fall, south bound commuters will access I-15 from the 1860 S. structure while crews demolish the SS structure, said Amy Heine, project engineer at Granite Construction, the general contractor for the current I-15 project in Utah County.
During the construction of these two overpasses, construction crews will maintain at least one lane of traffic in each direction, though most likely no fewer than two lanes in each direction will always be open, Nelson said.
“There may be some isolated incidents of lane closures. We may have to take it down to one lane while setting beams, but we will always maintain at least one, preferably two lanes,” he said.
Isolated incidents of lane closures will only occur at nighttime, Heine said.
Currently, construction crews are in the first phase of a five phase process. During the first phase, which is expected to be completed by mid-July, crews will add a lane of traffic on the right shoulder of southbound I-15 from 1860 S. to the SR 75 overpass in north Springville, a distance of about two miles. The median between the northbound and the southbound lanes along this stretch will be filled in, and northbound traffic will be diverted over to what is now the southbound lane, Heine said.
After the traffic has been diverted from the existing northbound lanes, construction crews will remove four to five inches of asphalt, install new drain pipes, and then repave the northbound lanes along the two mile stretch, she said.
Also during the first phase, construction workers will add pavement from University Avenue to the 600 S. overpass to improve the profile of the road. From 600 S. to the Provo river, just north of Center Street, crews will remove and replace the top one-inch layer of asphalt to improve water drainage.
During the second phase, construction crews will concentrate their effort on the 1860 S. structure.
During phase three, crews will demolish and replace the SS structure just north of 1860 S.
After the first three phases are complete, construction will begin on a noise wall that will extend on the west side of a stretch of I-15 from University Avenue to 600 S. A permanent concrete barrier will also be built in the middle of northbound and southbound lanes, Heine said.
Also during this phase, workers will fill in the gaps between the north and southbound lanes at Center Street, 900 S. and the 600 S. overpasses by building additional structures in the middle of these overpasses.
Finally, during phase five, there will be temporary daytime lane closures to finish out some side walls, and complete other things such as landscaping, Heine said.